More than two years after the start of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, Manitoba is lifting its remaining public health orders and restrictions, including mask use in public spaces, effective March 15.

“Thanks to the commitment, compassion and hard work of all Manitobans, particularly our health-care heroes, we are finally in a position to lift restrictions,” Health Minister Audrey Gordon announced on Monday. “This path forward will be different for all of us, whether we choose to wear masks or not, or how and when we connect with family and friends. Let’s be patient, thoughtful and kind to each other as we navigate this new normal together.”

Manitoba Health reminds Manitobans that public health orders requiring mask-wearing in public places end at 12:01 a.m. on Tuesday, March 15. However, masks will continue to be required for all individuals attending a healthcare facility, including visitors. Throughout the province, individuals may continue to choose to wear masks in various settings based on their preference, personal risk or other reasons.

Restrictions end for schools though masks recommended

Schools and child-care facilities continue to follow public health guidance on mask use, meaning they will no longer be required for staff or students. Physical distancing requirements and cohorts are also no longer required in these settings. Most divisions in Winnipeg have said while they will strongly recommend mask use they will not make their own rules requiring them.

Though orders have been lifted, public health will continue to monitor positive cases and severe outcomes related to COVID-19 and will provide updated information to Manitobans.

“We will continue to provide public health recommendations and guidance on COVID-19, but now Manitobans are empowered to make their own decisions about what is right for themselves and their families,” said Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer. “We know these restrictions have taken a toll on many people’s health and well-being, but we also know that this shift may cause different stress and anxiety for some. This is a process for everyone to take at their own pace and we need to remember to support each other as it happens.”

Manitoba, including schools, will move to Limited Risk (Green) under the Pandemic Response System.

At a press conference on Monday, Premier Heather Stefanson said she would continue to wear a mask in public.

Some have concerns

While many Manitobans may be ready to move on from the pandemic others are concerned about what the outcome of no restrictions will be.

Doctors Manitoba, an organization representing the province's doctors, resident physicians, and medical students says just because restrictions are ending doesn't mean that the pandemic is over. "A cautious approach is still recommended by physicians," the DM website says in an update. "COVID is still circulating widely across the province, and many remain at increased risk for severe illness and death. Manitoba’s hospitals are still strained, with ICUs overcapacity. Manitoba currently has the highest level of hospitalizations and death with COVID per capita in Canada."

The organization is encouraging Manitobans to continue wearing a good quality mask. They are also recommending that people "reconnect with others gradually. Just because there’s no limit anymore on how many people we can see, take it slow for now. Keep your contacts outside of your household to a reasonable size and avoid places that feel crowded."

To date, Manitoba has seen 133,096 cases and 1,716 deaths over the past two years. At the worst of the pandemic in Manitoba, the hospital system was so overrun that some patients had to be transferred out of the province for care. With the arrival of the Omicron variant cases quickly began to rise in December of 2021 and peaked in early January with almost 3,000 new cases per day.

Those numbers were much lower than actual numbers, however, as the province quit testing everyone as case counts surged. Cases have been steadily declining since mid-January. There are currently 5,485 active cases with 182 active cases in hospital, including 14 in ICU.

There have been 125,895 recover from COVID-19 in the province since the beginning of the pandemics. Again, the recovery cases are also lower than actual numbers due to limited testing the past three months.  

Additionally on March 15:

  • public health orders restricting travel to northern Manitoba will end;
  • individual case investigations related to COVID-19 will no longer occur and Manitoba will no longer generate key codes for the federal COVID Alert app; and
  • public health will no longer require people who test positive for COVID-19 to isolate.

Public health continues to recommend people isolate in the following situations:

  • people with symptoms should stay home and isolate for five days after symptoms start until they have no fever and other symptoms have improved over the past 24 hours;
  • individuals who have tested positive but do not develop symptoms should isolate for five days from the date of the test;
  • individuals should wear a well-fitting, well-made mask if they must have contact with other people while ill or when their isolation is finished for 10 days after the onset of symptoms or test date if asymptomatic; and
  • people who have symptoms or test positive should avoid non-essential visits with higher-risk people or at higher-risk settings for 10 days after the onset of their symptoms or test date if asymptomatic.

The government says that to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, it is recommended Manitobans get vaccinated, stay home when sick, assess their risk and make decisions about using masks, physical distancing and other actions based on those risks.

Manitobans are encouraged to learn if they are eligible for COVID-19 treatment. Treatment can help protect against severe illness or hospitalization but must be given within days of having symptoms, so it is important to get tested quickly to access this care. Vaccinated and unvaccinated people, including those with chronic health conditions, who are pregnant or have other risk factors, may be eligible for treatment. More information about COVID-19 treatment is available at